Conference Theme

Historic Canals Today:
Education, Recreation, and Tourism

America’s 19th-century waterways supported the Industrial Revolution and Westward Expansion. Today their legacy creates the opportunity for education, recreation, tourism and community engagement.

This conference will help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the creation of Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park.

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal broke ground in 1828 with the intention of connecting Washington, D.C. with the Ohio River. Construction stopped when the canal reached Cumberland, MD in 1850, about halfway to its goal. The canal carried coal from Cumberland to Washington, D.C. until shutdown in 1924. Advocacy by conservation groups prevented conversion to a highway in the 1950s.

President Richard Nixon signed the legislation to create the C&O Canal National Historical Park January 8, 1971. Today the 184.5-mile canal towpath is a major recreational trail. In 2006 the Great Allegheny Passage, a rail trail using abandoned railroads, reached Cumberland creating a 335-mile greenway from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.

The park boasts an award-winning education program. The Canal Classrooms program provides experiential learning opportunities to K-12 students, taught by a cadre of retired teachers.

Other historic canals have similar stories to tell. The conference will provide an opportunity for participants to share the secrets of their successes.

C&O Canal Association hikers at lock 22
Railroad lift bridge at Williamsport

(click on the image to zoom in)

August 30 – September 2, 2021
Hagerstown, Maryland USA